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Top Five: Free Hong Kong Skyscraper Views

Up in the sky … for free

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View of Central from the 55th floor of IFC

I’ve said it before, but for such a high-rise city, Hong Kong is not exactly overflowing with choice when it comes to viewing the city from above. Yes, there are skyscrapers, and yes, some of them allow you to go at least some of the way up to see what you can see. But the only real upper-floor viewing experience in Hong Kong remains Sky 100 in the ICC, and even then you’ll be paying north of $150 for the privilege or buying yourself an $80 drink in Ozone.

But fear not those who would rather not pay for the privilege. Because despite the apparent lack of options, there are still a handful of Hong Kong skyscrapers which, while not approaching anywhere near as tall as ICC, do allow public access to a height from where decent views of the cityscape can be had. There are viewing decks and sky lobbies, lifts and museums, and best of all, they’re free. You might not be going 100 stories high, but two-thirds of the way up for a view that cost you nothing sounds like a decent deal to me. And at least you’ll get to see what you’ve been missing.

1. Central Plaza

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Great views and grandeur at the Central Plaza sky lobby

Without doubt my favourite free Hong Kong skyscraper view, Central Plaza’a 46th floor sky lobby gives a 360° panorama of the Hong Kong metropolis from the centre of Wan Chai. From Happy Valley and the hills of Hong Kong Island in the south, to Kowloon in the north and Victoria Harbour running east to west, Central Plaza is not only perfectly positioned, it’s also pretty gorgeous inside too.

Not a dedicated viewing deck as such, the sky lobby was designed to allow those fine people who work in Central Plaza to access the upper floors. The good thing as far as we are concerned, is that you don’t necessarily have to work in Central Plaza to enjoy the view, just make your way to the express elevators in the main lobby, and at 8 m/s, you’ll be whisked towards the 46th floor to gaze out to your eyes’ content.

Address: 18 Harbour Road, Wan Chai
Open: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m; Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
I.D. Needed: No

2. Bank of China Tower

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The Bank of China Tower observation deck, “a gloomy corner of a mid-level floor.”

43 floors up over Central, the Bank of China Tower observation deck is one of those that may have you wondering if you didn’t get out at the wrong floor. For such an iconic building, it seems a pity that all you get in terms of view-viewing access is a half dozen west-facing windows in a gloomy corner of a mid-level floor. But if you went to Central Plaza beforehand, I guess you have a right to feel spoiled.

It’s a bank and not a theme park, I know, yet you can’t help feeling just a little short-changed, especially knowing what you’re missing. There are views of IFC and The Centre out towards Central, as well as ICC over in West Kowloon. Down below, Government House, the domed roof of the Former Legislative Council Building and Statue Square can be seen. All of which, especially on a clear day, is all well and good. But most of the time you’ll probably have your face pressed against the glass wishing you could see more.

Address: 1 Garden Road, Central
Open: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m; Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
I.D. Needed: Yes

3. Two IFC

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You can also find the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre on the 55th floor of IFC

Put your hand up if you like money. Now put your hand up if you like learning about about the history and development of money and banking in Hong Kong. Not as many hands the second time, I suspect. But for those of you who are interested, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre on the 55th floor of Two IFC is the place to be. Here you can learn such fascinating things as the life-cycle of Hong Kong’s $10 polymer note and, perhaps most useful of all, how to tell a real $100 from a fake one.

For those of you not interested in any of this, there is always the view. It’s okay, as far as Hong Kong skyscraper views go. On one side there is Central, with views of Victoria Peak, the Bank of China Tower, and the other buildings of Hong Kong’s central business district. On the other side, looking west, you can look out over the harbour towards West Kowloon and ICC. You can even see Lantau and the Tsing Yi Bridge on a clear day. It’s not particularly easy to get photos because of the reflections, but for the two directions in which you can see, it’s worth the trip.

Address: 8 Finance Street, Central
Open: Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m; Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
I.D. Needed: Yes

4. One Island East

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One Island East – out of the way but surprisingly cool

It may not be one of the most well-known Hong Kong skyscrapers, and it may be a few stops down the line from the thick of the skyscraper action, but One Island East is perhaps the most interesting skyscraper on the list in terms of things to see inside. Similar to Central Plaza, the One Island East viewing platform is a sky lobby rather than an observation deck as such. And like Central Plaza, if you want to take a look, just get yourself to the ground floor express lift and make your way to the 37th floor.

The location may not be as prime as some of the more centrally located skyscrapers, but the three sides of floor-to-ceiling windows give decent views across Victoria Harbour towards the Kowloon hills, as well as a look down onto Tai Koo Shing and Shau Kei Wan a little further east. You should also, while you are here, make a point of visiting the ArtisTree gallery located on the 1st floor of the adjacent – and walkway-linked – Cornwall House, for a changing line-up of installations and art events.

Address: 18 Westlands Road, Quarry Bay
Open: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m; Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
I.D. Needed: No

5. Hopewell Centre

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Riding the lift to the 62nd floor of the Hopewell Centre

There’s a restaurant at the top of the Hopewell Centre. It’s a revolving restaurant and gives great views of Wan Chai by all accounts. But we’re not really interested in views that you have to sit down for a meal to enjoy, we’re more interested in what we can see for free. Good news then that to reach said restaurant, it’s necessary to take a sightseeing lift up the side of the building all the way to the 62nd floor.

The ride only lasts forty seconds or so, in which time you will rise above the streets and then the rooves, to reveal the highest view that we have on this list. Your only choice then, is to enter the restaurant or head back down to the lobby, though there’s nothing to stop you pressing the button and taking the lift back up again. You may get some strange looks from the maitre d’ by the fourth or fifth time. But you’ve got to get your money’s worth, right?

Address: 183 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
Open: Monday to Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m
I.D. Needed: No

Related Posts: For more Hong Kong skyscraper posts, visit tag: Hong Kong skyscrapers.

4 comments

  1. I went to the Bank of China tower today. They don’t allow access anymore. I asked at the reception and they check ID at the elevators.

  2. Hi,

    I’m currently in Hong Kong now and will try to get to some of those free skyscraper views.

    Thanks for posting the info.

    Allen

  3. Visited Sky100 and I agree it is rather overrated. Or maybe it was the bad weather which spoiled the experience.
    So I will be check out these tomorrow.
    Thanks for all the info and keep it coming!

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